Race is a difficult and complex topic, especially in light of American history. Rather than avoiding it, God wants His followers to engage this topic with biblical wisdom, humility, empathy, patience, civil conversations and historical awareness. Jesus' Church must work towards a unified voice of hope and Truth as the solution to this topic. Why? God's vision has always been to have beautiful diversity with inspired unity. We pray the resources below are helpful to you. If you are a Christian then we pray this equips you to know what your role since God has given you the ministry of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:18). Now before you begin to review the below resources we first encourage you to pray for ears to hear, minds to comprehend and hearts to respond to what you will read and hear. Secondly, we invite you to review these 10 Biblical Affirmations on the Gospel and Race. We must let God speak first through the Holy Spirit application of His Word to the issue of race. We invite you to look up these verses. Mediate on them. Allow them to shape them. Some wonder "why should the church talk about race for it only divides? The answer is the Bible talks a lot about race and ethnicities. In fact, you cannot spell grace without spelling race. God's grace creates a new race, called the Church, to bring peace to all races/ethnicities (Eph. 2:14-16). Our hope is in Jesus and His good news message. Why do we say that? Despite the very heated racial tension in the 1st Century among ethnicities - it was NOT too hard for Jesus' good news to handle. May that personally encourage you and give you hope for today!
Thirdly, let's humbly acknowledge that racial inequality and disunity that has happened and still is happening in our great country is a God-sized problem. It is one that only the Church, through the power of Jesus’ good news & the Holy Spirit, can heal. It requires a quality of love that Jesus, our Savior & King, can only provide. He is our hope and message since the message of Christianity is reconciliation, both vertically and horizontally (2 Cor. 5:20, Eph. 2).The Church is the hope of the world and people need a unified voice coming from the Church that Jesus loves and leads. This voice, His voice, will be a catalyst of hope, healing and reconciliation for the culture in which God has placed us to live and work. It is exciting that we can participate with Jesus on this. It truly is. This is the voice that FBC Brewster wants and will amplify by His grace and power of His Gospel as we head towards racial unity and reconciliation.
To be clear racism is a sin and all ethnicities in the world can demonstrate racism, oppression and discrimination because the root of racism is SIN. There is nothing in common with racism and the character and heart of God!!! Any solution, theory or worldview that does not see the root problem as sin will not experience the racial unity that God so desires in people, in His church and in communities that He loves. Not only is racism a sin but racism destroys unity and the oneness Jesus prays for in John 17. Racism distorts the image of God within all of us. Therefore, all ethnicities have a mutual responsibility to work towards healthy interracial communication with each other. We must first listen to understand, not listen to be understood. If Christians fail to listen to people who don't experience the world the way we do, we will never bear their burdens (Gal. 6:2).
Fourth, join us in God's reconciliation journey and be part of the solution. There is much work to do. Great progress has been made in America that needs to be celebrated yet let's also remember that being a proud American is to own the responsibility of the past through lament, reconciliation AND a commitment to correct any injustice in the present. To be clear, racism is NOT the defining characteristic of American identity that some make it out to be yet racism has been a defining wound of our past and its pain continues still today. What can you do about this? Educate yourself and listen to voices outside of your experiences. This is why we have put together resources so you can embrace your identity as an ambassador of reconciliation in Christ to point people to Jesus and His gospel which is good news for individuals and for communities!
Note: Please do not take the resources below that racism only applies to people who are White because that is not true. None of these resources will say that White bear the full responsible to solve this. Heaven's no!!! What we at FBC Brewster are saying is for Christians, our identity is in Christ and must be elevated above our ethnic identity. This does not mean we dismiss or ignore our ethnicity but it does mean that our previous ethnic identity is no longer one's point of reference. If you have said 'yes' to Jesus then your identity is in Christ and that is your starting place, your foundation, for everything else. Praise God that there is beauty to be celebrated and honored in all ethnicities. Therefore, in humility one should self-examine ourselves and our ethnic identity. Self-reflection is good and healthy and in no way should be taken as devaluing or shaming one's ethnicity. No one should feel guilty for the ethnicity God gave them. Biblical speaking, the Apostle Paul in 1 Cor. 11:28 & 2 Cor. 13:5, encouraged Christians to examine ourselves individually and collectively. We know you will not review all but pick the ones that stand out to you. Remember Jesus and His good news message is the only sufficient solution/remedy to racial unity.
Race and Reconciliation by Tony Evans (Ephesians 2:11-21)
The Family Table by Albert Tate (Revelation 7:9-17 & Matthew 22:34-40)
(sermon begins at 12:27 in the video)
What does Systemic Bias and Racism look like today? by George Yancey
When Blackness and Christian Collide (Video by The Gospel Coalition)
Powerful Conversation between Albert Tate and Nicole Martin on Church Pulse Weekly. Albert Tate is a pastor of a multiethnic church outside of L.A. Nicole is a professor at Gordon-Conwell in Boston. She is is also the director of Healing and Trauma with the American Bible Society.
You can also hear Pastor Travis and Pastor Wes from the Gathering Church in Danbury having a honest conversation about race here. This conversation took place on July 19, 2020.
FBC is affiliated with Converge Worldwide. They have put together many resources on this topic here. Below are a few of the resources that are helpful for further study.
Finally, when it comes conversations around race it is so easy to get offended or be misunderstood by the words we use. You may want to watch a video of the 7 Rules of Engagement when discussing race here. This will not guarantee a conversation from getting out of hand but these basic rules of conversations are helpful reminders to all.
Last Word: FBC Brewster will exalt Jesus above all. His good news message is our north star. We are thankful that His good news not only saves completely but also leads us to seek His kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. There is a lot of conversations to be had and a lot of work to do. Let's have these conversations and do the necessary work driven by who we are in Christ and a love for all people. Not to us, Lord, but to Your Name be all the glory, praise and honor as we see You unite Your people on this issue. We believe You can because You have a history of doing just that. Amen!